‘Dead Man Walking’ by Senegalese Visual Artist and Filmmaker, Djibril Drame, is a project exploring today's imitations of the past. An African proverb that Djibril uses as a reference states, ‘a man without tradition is one like a Zebra without stripes.’ With many new mediums and ways of living, some traditional African cultures have been gentrified. Some of these sacred practices have been turned into a trend with some even using it with a misguided representation of its origin and meaning. This project seeks to reunite the present with the past with his images depicting the ancestors visiting the new world through the youth and the lost souls seeking the ancestral intervention for clarity and purifications of the soul.
“The misrepresentation of African religions, traditions and cultures has led to the rupture of the soul throughout the journey.” Mentions Djibril. The need to ‘draw people back’ to their origin and roots is evident throughout the images. The subjects representing the Ancestors have a bold presence within the frame almost dominating the scene, making it theirs. This dominant persona portrayed by the subjects implies that the Ancestors are audacious with their message of making their history and importance known to all those that they come across.
“The image-making process was pretty smooth because all of the subjects are artists, some of them were dancers and musicians. I was showing exactly what was needed for each piece. I was mainly trying to find the right spot, the right composition and the placement of the models.” Explained Djibril. From his images, you get a sense of the performance aspect due to the way that the subjects are positioned in certain dramatic poses. Their overall mannerisms, help to convey the artistic and performance element to his project.
“Life is all about experience, its beautiful to fantasise and want to make a ton of work about your ancestors but you need to experience it, it is still here! If you go to villages, they still have ancestral practices, if you go to a mountain there are still practices there, you will experience some rituals that some of our ancestors used to do. It is important to have that experience because most of the time, that is what some people from the West have been doing to our culture, they don't really experience it but they just write about it.”
Djibril Drame is a Senegalese Filmmaker and Visual Artist making work across a wide spectrum of topics ranging from ancestral history to mental and emotional health in relation to the animal world amongst others. To view more of his work, visit his website